Saturday, March 10, 2018

Now on Netflix: Nailed It! (2018)

Nailed It! (2018) – Starring Nicole Byer, Jacques Torres

By Emily Haile

If you were to take the contestants from Worst Cooks in America, throw Top Chef-worthy challenges at them and add in a Cutthroat Kitchen twist, the result would be Nailed It!.

Nailed It! is a baking competition show with home bakers who try to recreate sweets that are way out of their league. It’s like you’re behind the scenes of Pinterest fails.

The show is hosted by Nicole Byer of Girl Code and Loosely Exactly Nicole fame. At the beginning of each episode, Byer gives three home bakers a Baker’s Choice challenge. They each have a short amount of time to recreate a baked good with over-the-top decorations. It could be anything from a jelly doughnut that looks like a pirate to an emoji cake. Because the bakers aren’t as familiar with the decorating process, the results are hilarious. Occasionally someone will whip up something with a resemblance, but it’s clear from the beginning the contestants are in over their heads.

The winner of the first round gets a prize, like a stand mixer or a Wilton decorating kit. All three are given three minutes to ask the guest judge for help at any point in the second round. The loser is given an advantage. In the first few episodes, the advantage is having Byer go to the other two contestants’ stations and distract them for three minutes. Later on it’s changed to less invasive disadvantages, like forcing the others to stop working for three minutes. I can’t help but wonder if the change was brought on because of Byer’s big personality. She definitely does a great job of annoying the contestants into not being able to work, but it may not be for everyone as a viewer.

The second round is a much bigger project. It could be a three-tiered wedding cake with fondant flowers, a shark or even a volcano complete with a dry ice lava effect. The results never look quite right, with some being totally unrecognizable. It’s always hilarious seeing what the bakers come up with because they’re relatable.

The most memorable contestant for me is episode 3’s Sal. The bakers are given tablets with the recipe, so they aren’t making anything from scratch. Sal doesn’t bother with the recipe. Somehow he manages to make a semi-edible cake without measuring anything or paying any attention to what’s supposed to be done.

The first season of Nailed It! is six 30-minute episodes. It’s the ideal show for a quick binge because of the length. Byer adds a great comedic element to an already funny premise, and I’d love to see what other crazy challenges they come up with next.

Nailed It! is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: ***1/2

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Now on Netflix: The Keepers (2017)

The Keepers (2017) - Directed by Ryan White.

By Kenny Howell

Making a Murderer got all the pub, but this crime documentary might be the better of the two on the streaming giant Netflix.

It is set up, as you can see in the picture, as who killed Sister Cathy Cesnik, a well-liked nun at a Catholic school in Baltimore in the late 1960s. But it isn't totally about the actual murder, which has never been solved, but the environment created in which her murder took place.

The murder happened nearly 50 years ago, and at that time Archbishop Keough High School, where Sister Cathy taught, was run by Father Joseph Maskell. Years after her murder, several former students at Keough accused Maskell of horrific sexual assaults where the girls were called into his office and raped under the mask that Maskell was treating them in some kind of way. That it was there fault. There is some evidence that Sister Cathy might have known about that abuse and it cost her her life.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Now on Netflix: The End of the F***ing World (2018)

The End of the F***ing World (2018) - Directed by Jonathan Entwistle, Lucy Tcherniak; Written by Charlie Covell, Charles S. Forman; Starring Jessica Barden, Alex Lawther, Steve Oram.

By Kenny Howell

The classic story of a psychopath and the girl who he wants to kill even though she likes him is told once again in this fantastic series on Netflix.

James (Alex Lawther) has suspected that he might be a psychopath for a long time. He started killing animals with a hunting knife he got as a present years ago, but now he thinks he is ready to take the next step. He wants to kill a human.

Alyssa (Jessica Barden) is tired of all the fake people at her school. They are all so boring, so she seeks out the only person she knows isn't - an outcast named James. She goes over to him and tells him that they are going to hang out. She thinks he will be great for her. He thinks she'll make a great person to kill. They start to hang out and agree that exactly what they need is to escape their horrible home lives. They go on the run, and things spin horribly out of control.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Now on Netflix: American Vandal (2017)

American Vandal (2017) - Created by Dan Perrault, Tony Yacenda; Starring Tyler Alvarez, Griffin Gluck, Jimmy Tatro, Lou Wilson, Jessica Juarez, Joe Farrell.

By Kenny Howell

Creators Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda take the serious tone of crime documentaries and spray paint a bunch of dicks on it in this occasionally very funny show from Netflix.

American Vandal is set in Hanover High School, a place recently rocked by a scandal that involves spray painted penises on every car of the faculty members at the school. The fall guy is Dylan Maxwell (Jimmy Tatro), a kid whose reputation doomed him more than actual evidence. He has riled up teachers for years by doing incredibly stupid stuff like whale noises during class or sharpening his pencil down to the eraser while they are trying to teach.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Now on Netflix: Everything Sucks!, Season 1 (2018)

Everything Sucks!, Season 1 (2018) - Created by Ben York Jones, Michael Mohan; Starring Jahi Di'Allo Winston, Peyton Kennedy, Patch Darragh, Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako, Quinn Liebling, Elijah Stevenson, Rio Mangini, Sydney Sweeney.

By Kenny Howell 

Netflix dives into nostalgia porn once again with this story about Boring, Oregon high school freshmen in 1996.

I was a high school freshman in 1994, so this is definitely my era and who the show is for, at least from a music standpoint. Creators Ben York Jones and Michael Mohan stay away from the really big songs of the time (except perhaps Oasis) and really bring back some of my formative years in music. Not that they were all good songs, but they were to me at the time, which is part of being a teenager. Having a mediocre to bad taste in music.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Now on Netflix: Altered Carbon (2018)

Altered Carbon (2018) - Created by Laeta Kalogridis; Starring Joel Kinnaman, James Purefoy, Martha Higareda, Chris Conner, Dichen Lachman, Ato Essandoh, Kristen Lehman, Trieu Tran, Renee Elise Goldsberry.

By Kenny Howell

Altered Carbon, the big budget, gorgeous new sci-fi from Netflix, is both clever and not clever enough at the same time.

The clever part is the set up based on the Richard K. Morgan novel from 2002. It is set in the future, obviously, in a time where humans consciousness can be downloaded into a small disk called a stack. That stack can be inserted into any human body available, known simply as sleeves. This means you can survive physical death as long as your stack is intact or your consciousness has been backed up somewhere.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

TV Review: SMILF, Season 1 (2017)

SMILF, Season 1 (2017) - Created by Frankie Shaw; Starring Frankie Shaw, Miguel Gomez, Rosie O'Donnell, Samara Weaving, Raven Goodwin, Connie Britton.

By Kenny Howell

A terrific Frankie Shaw leads us through her life as a single mom in this messy, but occasionally intriguing Showtime show.

Shaw, who created the show, plays Bridgette, a Boston single mom to a little boy named Larry Bird. She has a fairly good relationship with Larry's father but is a mess herself. Part of that is a horribly traumatic past, but the job of being a single mom has driven her crazy.

When the season begins, we see her fretting over her body and other issues fairly new moms deal with, but the series devolves into Bridgette spiraling downwards from the pressure of becoming something. She doesn't know what exactly, she just needs something.